August 1 marked the start of the fifth annual Te Marama Pūoro Waiata Māori – Māori Music Month, designed to nurture, grow and inspire up and coming performers and established artists alike. The start of the month also marked the opening of nominations for the 2020 Waiata Māori Music Awards. The awards celebrate music released in the year to June 2020 and artists can submit their work via the Waiata Maori Music website – nominations close on August 31.

A panel of independent judges will review the nominations with the finalists to be announced mid-September. Winners will be revealed at a gala event which this year returns to the ToiToi, Hawke’s Bay Arts and Events Centre, in Hastings, formerly the Hawkes Bay Opera House, on Friday, October 2.

The venue has been closed to undertake extensive redevelopment over the past five years.

The 2020 categories include new categories of Best Hip Hop Album by a Māori Artist and Best RnB Album by a Māori Artist (which replaces the Best Māori Urban Rap/Hip Hop/RnB Album category), as well as Best Māori Group. Also Best Te Reo Māori Album; Best Roots Reggae Album by a Māori Artist; Best Pop Album by a Māori Artist; Best Māori Male Solo Artist; Best Māori Female Solo Artist; Best Māori Group; Best Single by a Māori Artist; Best Music Video by a Māori Artist and Best Māori Songwriter.

The Waiata Māori Music Awards was founded by Māori performing arts advocate Tama Huata and is now headed by Tama’s daughter, Ellison Huata. Ellison says this year’s Te Marama Pūoro Waiata Māori will keep to its original kaupapa, putting a focus on celebrating emerging and established performers, growing their musical talents. One of the events planned for August is a singing competition where people can submit their own compositions to be judged by a panel of artists.

The top 10 finalists will get a chance to meet those working in the industry at the Waiata Māori Music Conference, scheduled for October 1. At the conference, established artists and music producers will be able to give the competition finalists some advice and guidance.

There will be two categories for the singing competition, Rangatahi, for those under 25 years old, and Pakeke, for those over 25.